Agriculture remains Northern Ireland’s highest emitting sector, according to new data from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
The latest greenhouse gas inventory details emissions in 2020.
He says agriculture is the only sector to have shown an increase since the 1990 base year, with all other sectors reducing their emissions.
Overall, Northern Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 24% between 1990 and 2020.
Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which include carbon dioxide and methane, trap heat that escapes into space.
The emissions estimates in this report cover seven greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride.
Agriculture was responsible for 28% of local emissions in 2020.
Compared to the base year of 1990, this is an increase of 7%.
The other larger sectors – transport, residential, energy supply, business and land use, land use change and forestry – have all shown declines over that period.
Based on projections released on Thursday, agriculture is expected to decline by just 1% between 2020 and 2031.
But its share of emissions is projected to rise to 32% by 2031, as “other sectors reduce emissions at a faster rate”.
The inventory estimated 2020 emissions at 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).
This is a 24% decrease from the 28 MtCO2e emitted in the 1990 base year.
Over the next few years, emissions are expected to decrease year-on-year, with an overall estimated reduction of 13% by 2031.
The report said the downward trend was primarily driven by the energy supply sector, as electricity generation moves away from using fossil fuels and towards using more gas and renewable generation.
He added that the business sector will contribute almost a third (31%) of the overall emissions reduction from 2020 to 2031.
From base year to 2020, emissions from transportation decreased by 2%.
They are projected to decrease by 8% from 2020 to 2031, largely due to the projected rise of electric vehicles and changes in carbon dioxide regulations for vehicles.
The sector contributed 16% of emissions in 2020 and is projected to have a similar share (17%) in 2031.
Emissions from the residential sector decreased by 23% between 1990 and 2020, with an expected decrease of 24% between 2020 and 2031.
And energy supply emissions have fallen by almost half (46%), with a slower rate of reduction expected from 2020 to 2031.